The Commemoration of all the faithful departed takes place this year in the Holy Land with a special thought for the victims of the war between Israel and Hamas. In Jerusalem, the friars of the Custody of the Holy land, as every year, gathered on 2 November in St Saviour’s church for the celebration of the Mass, followed by the visit to the cemeteries of the friars and the parish on Mount Zion and the blessing of the tombs.
The Mass in the parish
On 2 November, as well as the convent Mass, the friars take part in that of the parish of St Saviour, Arabic. Fra Amjad Sabbara, the Latin parish priest of Jerusalem, presided over the liturgy. Fra Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, and fra Alessandro Coniglio, discreet and lecturer at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, other friars and priests, concelebrated the mass with them, all wearing violet vestments. Many faithful were also present, who on this special day of prayer and spiritual communion with the departed, remember their loved ones.
Only God is the Lord of history
“This year our celebration is taking place in a particular climate: for weeks now we have heard this word every day: death,” said fra Amjad in his homily. “In front of the death of so many innocents, like that of Jesus, we want to have the gaze of the centurion who, seeing Jesus dying, realized that he was the Son of God. We want to learn to see that after death there is a new life, that we all rise in Christ.” The parish priest compared the death of so many innocent people today with that wanted by Herod: “he killed all the children to kill Jesus, but he was unable to because the Lord of history is always God. Even if everyone want to get rid of this voice, the voice of God will always be the only one to follow.”
The visit to the cemeteries
Immediately after Mass, friars and the faithful, in a procession, walked through the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem to Mount Zion, where there are the Catholic cemeteries. Immediately outside Zion Gate, there is the cemetery of the Franciscan friars, where a moment of prayer was held and the tombs were blessed, with incensing and sprinkling holy water. From here the procession went down to the two parish cemeteries: the old one, used until 1948, which still shows signs of a bombing, and the “new” one, which since 1967 has been used for the mortal remains of the faithful of the Latin Parish and which looks southwards, on to the Hinnom (or Gehenna) Valley. A number of local faithful made the traditional visit to the graves of their loved ones, to leave a flower or a lit candle as a sign of remembrance.